Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2006 October 24
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The Antennae Galaxies in Collision
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
Acknowledgment: B. Whitmore (Space Telescope Science Institute) et al.

Explanation: Two galaxies are squaring off in Corvus and here are the latest pictures. When two galaxies collide, however, the stars that compose them usually do not. This is because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. During the slow, hundred million year collision, however, one galaxy can rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. In the above clash of the titans, dark dust pillars mark massive molecular clouds are being compressed during the galactic encounter, causing the rapid birth of millions of stars, some of which are gravitationally bound together in massive star clusters.

Tomorrow's picture: intriguing hole

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